Archives for the month of: July, 2012

“The Dark Knight Rises” is directed by Christopher Nolan, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer with characters created by Bob Kane.

I don’t usually give a cast list, but the cast was so talented, that I feel I should…So, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine…you see what I’m talking about.

So, yeah.

A finely crafted story, the final chapter of Nolan’s take on Batman is dark, edgy, disruptive, disturbing and challenging. The script is unsentimental and the film is icy with cold passion and the look is dark and grim.

Batman isn’t cuddly or cute and you won’t be cheering with your fellow audience members and there are no laugh out loud moments either. But it will keep you on the edge of your seat and draw you into this imaginary world. This is a sophisticated film with a refined sense of artistry – Nolan ups the ante on superhero films, on geek films and on sci-fi films.

The acting, too, is stellar. More than once I had a moment of “Bale is doing an Upper Class East, Caine is doing Cockney, Oldman is doing American, Gordon-Levitt is doing Bronx, Burn Gorman is doing American and Tom Hardy is doing…Bane. Whoa!”

This film won’t have you cheering and clapping at the end, nor, at any part of it, but it will give you something to think about – the was Nolan has tied the threads of the 3-movie narrative together, the moral issues he raises and the Batman he has given us for the current time.

Bravo.

 

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“Bubba Ho-Tep” is directed by Don Coscarelli, written by Don Coscarelli based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale.

One of the most ridiculous premises for a movie ever: Elvis and JFK are alive, living in a rest home in Texas where they join together and fight against an Egyptian Mummy to protect the souls of their fellow residents.

This film is wildly uneven – with parts having excellent writing and other parts are horrid. But, it is still one of the most fun-filled ways to spend an hour and half.

There are cheap thrills, unlikely heroes, rude jokes and Bruce Campbell channeling The King of Rock and Roll.

I won’t recommend this film or suggest that you see it, ‘cuz…well, it is just so bad. But if you like bad movies, B-movies or anything with Bruce Campbell, then go ahead and give it a watch – it will fascinate and amuse you.

“The African Queen” is directed by John Huston, novel written by C.S. Forester, adapted for film by James Agee and John Huston. Peter Viertel and John Collier are uncredited.

Released in 1951, Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn are at their absolute best playing a gin-swilling Canadian and English missionary who travel on a steam boat with plans to attack a German warship.

A joy and a pleasure to see this film on the large screen, even if you don’t have the ability to see it in a theatre, see it! It is a classic and the actors embody and show true chemistry.

Yes, I am loving the classic movie festival…up next month: Singin’ In The Rain!

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is directed by Marc Webb, screenplay by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent and Steven Kloves, story by James Vanderbilt, based on comic books by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

I had no intention or interest in seeing this movie. In my way of thinking I couldn’t figure why we needed another Spider-Man movie so close to the last 3 movies – with a completely new cast, and completely re-booted origin story. I liked the last 3 and had decided to give this one a “pass”.

Am I ever happy that I saw it.

First, the cast is perfect: Andrew Garfield is perfectly cast as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, physically and emotionally and quick with the one-liners and quips, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is charming, engaging and smart, Rhys Ifans delivers a great performance and Sally Field and Martin Sheen as Aunt May and Uncle Ben offer updated versions of these classic characters and seeing Dennis Leary in anything is always a treat.

Wisely, this film has a lesser bad-dude to start this version of the franchise – The Lizard.

The dialogue is great, the fight sequences fun and fast-paced although one stumbling point is the questionable science on which the film rests on.

The other weakness of the film is the musical score, it stands out and often takes away from the emotional moments of the film, too loud where it should be quiet and quiet where it should be loud. It also doesn’t help at all with the pacing.

This film has the honour of having the best Stan Lee cameo – if nothing else in the film had worked, the cameo is amazing and alone worth the price of admission.

Very enjoyable way to spend the evening and a movie that will pleasantly surprise.

 

“Neil Young Journeys” is directed by Jonathan Demme, documenting Neil Young’s solo tour stop at Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, interspersed with scenes of Neil Young driving from his hometown of Omemee to Toronto.

Whoa.

This film was riveting and interesting, Yong’s is a stellar performer and even for those who aren’t familiar with his songs will find something to love.

Interestingly, the way Demme shot the film seems totally counter-intuitive, there is no sense of the audience viewing the show, and some of the shots are so frighteningly up-close and personal – to the point of spit flying onto the camera and messing up the remaining song footage.

I have to admit that some of the references that Young makes during moments when he is talking about his life were totally lost on me and perhaps knowing biographical information would have better placed me to understand the references, but I enjoyed the concert footage.

This film is a must see for those who love concert films or those who love Neil Young.

“Gimme Shelter” is directed by Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin.

The Maysles Brothers document the 1969 Rollin’ Stones tour across USA, with clips from the planning of the Altamont concert and the shocking conclusion.

This film was released in 1970, but I’ve never seen it before, somethings, I guess have to wait for the right moment to see them. For me, the right moment was a showing at the Bloor Cinema on Saturday afternoon.

This movie was pure documentary – there wasn’t anyone trying to prove a point or editorializing, just the captured moments on film. And it is…powerful.

I love how the film just starts, without a set-up or introduction and there is this moment where it pulls back and you see the band watching the footage and making comments about it and what they think. It gives a feel of completely accessibility and intimacy with the band, that today, is impossible.

Live concert footage from venues pre-Altamont is interwoven with tense planning sessions and logistical meetings for the last concert. The thing about the movie is, at this point in time, we know someone at Altamont is stabbed, we understand that the movie is hurtling towards death of someone in the crowd, but we don’t know who or when or even if we will see it on film.

One of the most intense scenes of the movie is Tina Turner’s performance which is sexy…ok, beyond sexy, I mean, she basically has oral sex with the microphone, and this was so very bizarre for me to see, ‘cuz by the 80s, when I was around to know her, she was all legs. But, whoa, Tina, that was pretty steamy stuff.

The conclusion of the film, too, is quite intense, the reason and the reaction leading up to the stabbing are both caught on film and Mick Jagger’s voice breaks in and asks that the film be reverse and replayed, it is and the directors point out both the gun and the knife.

No conclusions are made and blame is not placed.

I should also tell you that this film effectively destroyed my understanding of 60s counter-culture. I thought that the 60s were this time of enlightenment and understanding and increased consciousness – peace and love and what not. The concert showed a lot of people freaking out in very bad ways, a lot of questionable nudity and so much gross and muck. It was all around weirdness.

But, this film is a must-see for music lovers, documentary film lovers and people who want to know something about something.

Must go see.

“Brave” is directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell (co-director). story written by Brenda Chapman, screenplay by Mark Andres, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi.

Move over Disney Princesses! Princess Merida is the new royal chick on the block who uses a sword, does archery, rides a war-horse, and decided to change her fate by going against tradition and refusing to wed.

Merida then seeks to put things in her world to rights and make her mother understand her perspective, facing danger and trying to unravel a riddle.

This movie was refreshing in the best kind of way, cartoons that challenge traditions and set-up new role models for girls is always welcome. And needed.

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie with two companions, one a 7-year old. She said that she really enjoyed it – there were scary parts and sad parts and she really liked Merida.

I liked it too. It was great to finally see a movie princess who was good with being single and didn’t do everything perfectly. I loved that her hair was wild and curly and rarely tamed and that, in one sequence, she rock climbed. Yeah, I have my biases.

The movie was thoughtful and moving, I really enjoyed how Merida’s family was portrayed, while her relationship with her mother is at the core of the film, her father and brothers are certainly a part of the dynamic as well.

I think as women, we do spend some amount of time trying to reconcile the roles that our mothers play and the role we seek to crave out for ourselves.

Pixar does a lovely and brilliant job with animation, Merida’s hair especially was wonderful. I saw it in 3D, but the 3D wasn’t key to either the plot or the animation, you could comfortably see this movie in straight up 2D and you won’t miss a thing.

The best thing about this movie was that the previews don’t give the story away, the plot is filled with surprises and twists and keeps one interested and engaged.

Totally recommend seeing this movie, in theatre if you can manage.

“Flamenco Flamenco” is directed by Carlos Saura.

Description for this film says this is a “look at the history and traditions of flamenco dance and music”.

Something must have gotten lost in translation ‘cuz I didn’t learn a thing about either the history nor traditions of flamenco dance and music.

What I did see what some very passionate dancing, guitar playing, hand clapping, table clapping, and angst-y singing.

I have no idea what those people are singing about, they could be singing their grocery lists for all I can tell, subtitles not included here folks!, but they were pretty worked up about it.

For me, the dance was most interesting, however often the shot cut-away from the dancer’s feet just when things were getting really interesting. To me, I mean. What is the point in hearing a dancer’s foot stomps and taps if you can’t see the feet? Show me those feet stomping! These sequences also provided some of the most interesting visual interest as ell – there was one notable scene with six dancers that used mirrors so you actually felt like you were watching a group of dancers that was three times as big.

The film was lovely, however one can’t help but compare this film to the recent “Pina”, also a dance movie.(my review here) As I said to my companion, with whom I saw both films, I don’t actually like or understand modern dance, so “Pina” was a challenge for me and this film changed the way I think and like modern dance, it gave me a new appreciation for it. I love flamenco, so this film didn’t do anything to change my mind or challenge my perceptions. Also, I think “Pina” was more challenging in terms of visual effect and staging. And location. But I liked the music in “Flamenco Flamenco” better – it was more familiar and accessible to my ears.

Beautiful movie and if you love music, go and see this film. Just make sure you are ok with not understanding lyrics. And don’t want to find out about the tradition and history of flamenco dance and music ‘cuz you aren’t’ going to learn that stuff here.

“Ted” is directed by Seth MacFarlane, screenplay by Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild.

I was curious to see not only Seth MacFarlane’s directorial film d├ębut but also how on earth they would explain the concept of a real-live talking teddy bear. Actually, how they handle it isn’t bad at all – a teddy-bear comes to life as a result of a boy’s childhood Christmas wish and then the story picks up when the boy is a 35-year-old man and the teddy-bear still lives with him and the man’s girl-friend of four years.

As absurd as the premise is, the movie treats it quite straight and seeks laughs in other ways. Fans of MacFarlane’s TV series “Family Guy”, will recognize popular devices: cut-aways, flash-backs, absurd fight sequences, fantastical montages. Unfortunately, what works to great effect in a half-hour animated serial doesn’t always work well in a two-hour life-action movie and someone would have been wise to guide MacFarlane into not relying so much on his tired and true standbys.

This could have been a “Family Guy” episode and at times, actually felt like at any moment the credits should roll.

I did enjoy the numerous 80s reference, notable “Flash Gordon”, but I’m not sure that this kind of running gag worked to any great effect and, from audience murmurs it seemed that many people lacked the reference to get many of the jokes.

The film also seemed to struggle with tone – at times there were some lovely heart-felt moments and in others decisive raunchiness and rudeness – giving to a over-all uneven and unfinished feel.

If you are a fan of “Family Guy”, you won’t be disappointed, but you can pretty much seeing this on a large screen – there is nothing special happening the cinematography that warrants it so you can see it at home on your small(er) screen and save a few dollars. It will also make you wonder why MacFarlane bothered making a film when he could have just made 4 “Family Guy” episodes with the same premise.